Windows 8 Consumer Preview – hurray, the start menu is back!

[German edition] I don't know, what thouse guys at Microsoft are thinking, but removing the start orb in Windows 8 Consumer Preview was one of the most foolish things I ever saw. Have you ever tried to invoke computer management, using search? Welcome back to the old dos 1.0 days. Finally I though, why not try to get the start menu back…


I crossed some wrong and stoney paths …

Here I've already discussed, how to get a start menu back in Windows 8 Developer Preview. But classic shell and other tricks doesn't work anymore for consumer preview. Stumbled upon this site created some hope. But the tool ViStar did not work on my test machine (it stalls with an access violation). Don't know what went wrong – but I dumped that thing.

At least I begun to develop a few "hints" to ease access to important Windows features and programs. Desktop shortcuts are one solution to access programs. And we can use another trick: If we point with the mouse cursor to the lower left desktop corner, the Start window will hover. Right clicking to that point invokes a context menu, that grants access to the most important Windows 8 commands.

What I'm still missed was a smooth way to access applications. I have had developed "some kind of survival solution" for Developer Preview (as discussed here). We can create a folder on Windows 8 desktop and name it:


This folder will be shown as Applications gains quick access to several Windows applications and features. Combined with desktop shortcuts we got a little bit more comfort.

And we can also create some custom toolbars in taskbar (as I discussed in this German article). Right click to taskbar, select the context menu command Toolbars/New Toolbar and choose the required folder (as discussed here). You can try to create two toolbars pointing to the following folders:


\Users\Born\ AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Startmenü

The first path points to the start menu entries used for all users. The second path creates a pseudo start menu with entries for the current user. The screen shot shown above shows such a toolbar with a pseudo start menu (with German entries).

The disadvantage: We have two toolbars named "start menu" and we need to decide, which toolbar (for local or a global entry access) may be clicked. Not the best solution at all.

Well, there is another trick in the bowl: You can create a third toolbar in your Taskbar and point it to the folder

\Users\Born\ AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\WinX

This folder contains some subfolders with helpful short cuts. Here is a screen shot of my German Windows 8 with the Toolbar WinX still open.

We have here an entry Group2 with shortcuts to search, run, Windows Explorer and control panel. Group3 contains shortcuts for device manager, computer management, system network, command prompt windows and so on.

But overall, that wasn't what I espected. Hello Microsoft – I wan't my Startmenü back – basta & pronto!

Here comes the solution: Vista Start Menu

I nearly decided to program my own solution, because all hints discussed above can't fulfill my requirements. I searched a bit, and came across Classic Shell – but that won't work in Consumer Preview anymore (the start orb is missing at all). Then I stumbled upon a short post in German MS Answers forum, and that did it.

This website offers a small freeware Vista StartMenu with the motto "Start working with pleasure!". The tool was developed long time ago to present an alternative to Windows XP and Windows Vista start menu. Well, "Start working with pleasure!" could give hope also for Windows 8 CP.

  • I downloaded the file VistaStartMenu_Setup_3_88_freeware.exe and installed it in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The setup wizard creates a desktop shortcut for this application.
  • But I have had another trouble. I was really pissed about the current the way, how Windows 8 CP handles some things. I have to point with my mouse in the lower left desktop corner to hover the Start window. But in 99 % of all cases I end up with accidently clicking the Internet Explorer button. That have to be fixed somehow – to save my nerves!
  • I right clicked the Vista Start Menu desktop shortcut and selected the context menu entry Pin to Taskbar.

That's all, I have had my start menu button back in taskbar – and I was able to move it to the most right task bar position. Now I just was able to click the new button, and enjoy the start menu. Below is a screenshot of the new start menu.

Well, there are some entries like PC setting or Store, that does't work (because these entries points to Metro apps). But that's a minor issue. I have had my start menu back, and I have had now the ability, to access my Windows 7 programs – "start working with pleasure!"

It's incredible, what the developer of Vista Start Menu already created. And the best of all: I still have the option, to point to the lower left corner of my desktop, to hover the Start window and switch to Metro start screen. That's a solution, I would loved to see from Microsoft …

BTW: The new version names Start Menu 7 doesn't work, because of the missing start orb!

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